Dr. Vijay Vad on the causes of back pain and a few simple, self-help options to alleviate chronic pain.
In this video, Lorimer Moseley explores the pain that we feel as our bodies’ way of protecting us from damaging tissue. He also looks at what this might mean for those who suffer from chronic pain. Check out the video here.
The basic question Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman asks is why does the human body look and function the way it does? He researches an evolutionary approach to human anatomy and physiology not only helps us to understand better why humans are the way they are, but also helps provide key insights on how to prevent many kinds of illnesses and injuries. Find more information here.
Tom Mayer runs one of the oldest – and the best – functional rehabilitation programs in the U.S. With a return-to-work focus, P.R.I.D.E (Productive Rehabilitation Institute of Dallas for Ergonomics) reconditions back pain sufferers, aids with withdrawal from opioid narcotics, and addresses psychological concerns.
Austria, Australia, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland
This no-nonsense website is an excellent resource for preventative and therapeutic strength training. Their slogan? “A strong back knows no pain.” They have locations worldwide, and will conduct a free first personal session to lay out your situation and your training goals.
Whitfield Reaves, one of the bigshots in sports medicine and acupuncture, developed Acupuncture Sports Medicine in Boulder, CO, which integrates orthopedics and acupuncture into a thorough treatment program for athletes suffering from sports injuries and other musculoskeletal conditions.
You can also read an article by Reaves titled “Low Back Pain: The Quadratus Lumborum Muscle.”
Chad Bong’s Philadelphia Sports Acupuncture institution uses a combination of massage therapy, acupuncture, targeted muscle strengthening, and stretching to treat athletes for injuries and simply to maximize their movement and activity on whatever field they play. He’s Whitfield Reaves’ right-hand man in the teaching of sports medicine acupuncture (see entry on Whit Reaves for more acupuncture resources).
Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, Michael H. Urdang, and Dr. Douglas R. Johnson have written Back Sense: A Revolutionary Approach to Halting the Cycle of Chronic Back Pain. The book does a great job of exploring the influence of stress and tension, and offers an escape route.
In 1998, Richard Deyo, MD, one of the most clear-thinking back pain experts in the U.S., published an article in Scientific American (paywall) explaining what was wrong with back pain treatment. Not a lot has changed. See his list of myths, complete with matching cartoons, on page 52; his book Hope or Hype: The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises is also a must-read.
Craig Liebenson has been instrumental in developing the International Society of Clinical Rehabilitation Specialists, many of whom were trained as chiropractors, but have chosen to retrain in spine rehab and sports medicine. For information on providers in your area, search here. Have a look at some of Craig Liebenson’s work here. Trained as a chiropractor, he’s one of the great spine rehab specialists, located in West Los Angeles.
Here are a couple of Craig Liebenson’s articles in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, describing exercises that you can do, though it would be best to do them under supervision. See The Missing Link in Protecting Against Back Pain and How to Stabilize My Back. (Note that the exercises described here are variations of exercises that Dr. Stuart McGill has made famous, but there’s no such thing as intellectual property when you’re talking about exercises.)
Also check out the advisory committee here.
Joe Zarett, whose large facility, Zarett Rehab, is an excellent pick for getting your body back in order. He is incredibly demanding, but can help you implement the major change you need.
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Stuart McGill is a professor of biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He frequently advises governments, corporations, and elite athletes and athletic teams when it comes to difficult back cases. In his laboratory at the University of Waterloo, experts test out products and recommendations, and only the best make it to his website, BackFitPro, a repository of back pain prevention and rehabilitation information.
Watch this video to get to know McGill and his work a little better:
Read Cole’s article posted on the Yoga Journal, titled “Back on Track: 5 Daily Poses to Ease Back Pain“
The American Viniyoga Institute is the union of practitioners and institutions that base their practice in Viniyoga. As the site explains it, Viniyoga is “a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and study of texts. Viniyoga (prefixes vi and ni plus yoga) is an ancient Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application.” Gary Kraftsow developed the institute in order to tailor different methods and practices in yoga to individuals’ specific needs and conditions with a focus on back pain. The institute is based in Oakland, CA, but you can search for a teacher or therapist anywhere through the AVI website’s directory here.
This functional restoration program in Lebanon, NH is provided by the Spine Center of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock network of health programs in northern New England, and led by Dr. Rowland Hazard, one of the leaders in functional restoration. The goal of their rehabilitation program is to limit the need for more spine surgeries and instead help patients develop the tools to return to functional lives at home and work alike.
The Spine Center at NEBH specializes in evaluation, treatment and management of spine disorders. Dr. James Rainville leads an internationally-recognized exercise-based “boot camp” program.
Here’s a midwestern program based on James Rainville’s protocol.
Read an article featuring Carol Hartigan from the New England Baptist Hospital about hitting the weights.
I met Dr. Heidi Prather, D.O., Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurology and Co-Director Director of Orthopaedic Spine Center at Washington University School of Medicine, at a spine surgery conference where many of the other doctors (mostly surgeons) did everything they could to avoid me. Dr. Prather and I chatted for a couple of hours about her interests – women’s health; in particular, low back pain, radiculopathy, sacroiliac joint pain and pelvic dysfunction. A few weeks later, I had a woman call her who had been scheduled to undergo a two-level spinal fusion…but who turned out not to need any type of surgery. It can be tough to get a hold of Dr. Prather – her office tends to put people off, telling them she only sees dancers and athletes. Not true. If you’re in the St. Louis area, keep trying, because it’s worth it.